Dana White’s slap fighting league will debut on TBS on January 11. The show will feature competitors slapping each other across the jaw as hard as possible in an attempt to elicit a knockout.
This form of spectacle is nothing new; slap fighting is a couple of years old now. However, the UFC President is giving the sport (?) exposure and legitimacy like never before.
White is clearly trying to attract an MMA audience to his new venture. This appears even more obvious with the news that former UFC middleweight champion Forest Griffin has been given a role on the show (per TMZ).
Thankfully, Griffin isn’t signed up to take any head trauma. The first ever TUF winner will instead be performing the role of ‘head catcher’. This means Griffin will stand behind the people getting whomped and will be charged with catching anyone who falls backwards.
Griffin told TMZ that he was responsible for making sure competitors don’t suffer more than an acceptable amount of brain damage.
“That double impact,” Griffin said, explaining what he was hoping to prevent. “You’ve taken the first trauma and when your head hits the ground, bang bang, both sides of your brain actually bounce against your skull. We want to prevent that and make it just the initial impact and have that be what causes you or not causes you to win or lose the competition.”
Brains bouncing off the inside of the skull is extremely dangerous. That motion is what causes brain bleeds, which have killed numerous MMA fighters and boxers including Tim Hague, Joao Carvalho and Dwight Ritchie.
However, that motion is not the only risk combat sports athletes are taking with their brains. When the brain is forced to rotate, within the skull, it can cause a number of symptoms which, we often refer to as a ‘concussion’. The technical term for this is a mild traumatic brain injury of mTBI.
MTBIs cause a protein called tau to be released within the brain. This protein causes decay across the brain. This process causes chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE can lead to dementia, depression and increased risk of suicide.
Tau is released in the brain during an mTBI regardless if the injury presents typical concussion symptoms (such as losing consciousness).